Fri 10th May 2013 (Day 1)
In which we walk quite a long way, and get no nearer the east Coast.
Now. let’s gets this straight at the very start.
It’s ALL PHIL’s Fault.
And that’s everything, everywhere
So to day 1.
Distance 23.85 km Ascent 295.4m (excluding walking to ferry)
On just Lismore Distance 7.32 km Ascent 22.4m
|Map Day 1 Oban to Elleric|
We woke early and stuff was packed.
Breakfast was early, because we had a ferry to get.
The ferry went at I seem to remember something like 8.50 and it was a bit of a hike to the ferry.
So breakfast was taken, and we set off back to the main port.
|Al and I (cos Phil took it)|
I had trimmed down for this years Challenge, from the embarrassment of the Daunder the year before.
But I am even lighter now, not here, I lost about 6lb on the Challenge, despite the beer.
Just 8lb (old money) off my target weight as I write this.
Spot my nice new Innov8 Roclites.
Now I like these shoes.
OK, a few days with slightly sore feet, but NO blisters.
We will come to that as we progress.
But (a mini rant is coming)
The problem is, they are good for one Challenge before they start to disintegrate.
This is down not to abuse, but just in my mind to poor manufacturing standards.
Great shoes, but sub standard quality.
Same thing happened to my Terrocs a few years ago.
I have sent them back, and we shall see what we shall see.
Anyway, back to the Challenge
We made our way down to the Ferry, and bought our tickets to Lismore.
The ferry lounge is quite nice, and also warm and dry.
Maybe we should have stayed there all day.
Just after we got our tickets we wandered back, where a few other Challengers were standing.
A nice lady who we now know is called xxxxxx (come on Al, who were they) wandered over to Al and said
“I know you.”
“You wrote about me on your blog”
“You called me a nice OLD LADY”
It was the old lady bit that had grated I believe
On that year, her husband had been on the Challenge, but had apparently broken his leg.
So conversations took place, and as it transpires Al had probably been forgiven for such a dreadful slight.
It was time to wander down to the actual ferry.
We had seen quite a few fine looking boats coming in and out of the harbour.
We wandered round looking at them.
We wandered on
And a bit further
And a bit round the corner, until we saw our tiny little ferry boat.
This was not to be a Brittany type ferry.
At the start of the ramp were a group of the usual culprits with Mich and Pete amongst them.
A man down by the ferry, was repairing the ramp door
(that’s the one at the front that comes up and stops the sea flooding in and sinking the boat)
He appeared to be doing this by beating it with a bloody great club hammer.
Well, they are professionals, and hammering over we were allowed to make our way onto the ferry.
|The usual suspects plus others on the Lismore Ferry|
|Jeff, Joke, Mick, myself and Al (picture by Phil)|
Well, the door shut (which was nice)
The ferry headed off out of the harbour.
It was a calm day, but a bit overcast.
A long way from the weather that was to come.
Still some great views though
We had begun our Journey to the East Coast
WE WERE HEADING WEST
|The Castle ruins Oban|
|View from the Ferry as we left Oban and headed to Lismore|
|Clouds a forming looking I believe towards Mull|
The journey to Lismore is quite short, and in no time flat we had arrived.
Time for the walk up the island to get the ferry to Port Appin. (An even smaller ferry)
The walk starts from the ferry and turns right through what looks like a small set of cottages.
You go through a gate past the front of a house.
At first you think this is wrong, it looks like you are going into someones garden, but shortly after you turn right then left through another small wooden style gate (too small for a rucksack and person to easily negotiate), and at this point you reach the track that runs along the coast.
It was a bit wet underfoot, quite surprisingly.
The track runs along past a memorial and then a bit later on toy get a choice, to go up to the road, or carry on along a faint track past TirefourCastle Broch.
One group did the Broch, but we headed up to meet the road at Killandrist.
Opposite this junction there is a museum and coffee and tea rooms.
Unfortunately, this is not open until 11.00
That might have been a good thing, because if we had ventured in, we may well have missed the ferry
We carried on along the road, with the odd car, but really so few as to not notice.
There are nice views out to sea.
We were accompanied at times by Mick and Pete.
The weather for the most held off until we were about half way, when we had to pop on the waterproofs for a short while.
Initially it was to be a day of short showers.
|Small stone artwork on a post.
No idea what it was for, but it was quite nice
|Views out to the forming clouds|
|Shame it was not a sunny clear day, but it was pleasant walking|
|Tree and old oil drum.
Well, I liked the picture anyway
Eventually we dropped down to the small hut that is at the Port Appin Ferry.
This is quite new and was warm and dry, and nice to be out of the wind.
As we waited gradually everyone turned up.
We had a drink and the odd Jelly Baby.
Please note.. You CANNOT complete a Challenge successfully without Jelly babies.
Eventually the small foot ferry arrived and we all boarded for the 5+ minute transfer to Port Appin.
On arrival we grabbed our kit.
Al had vanished by now, because he had seen the Pub, and was off to bag a seat.
Strangely I think everyone went to the Pub.
This was the Pierhouse Hotel
Phil or someone bought some drinks.
I had an alcoholic Ginger Beer.
I ordered some food.
I had a rather fine soup of the day.
Phil as you can see was still on the salads.
This was soon to stop.
|Phil loves his salads he does.
The question is, did he actually eat it?
You decide 😉
We could have stayed, but we had a long way to go today, and the rain had started.
At this stage it was a bit on and off.
I say that, but mainly on.
Within a short distance waterproofs were needed.
Well needed by me anyway.
Now, I must mention Phil’s watch
Phil has a fine watch that tells altitude and stuff like that.
He has used it on more than one Challenge.
But prior to this Challenge he had had a NEW battery fitted.
The outcome of this was that the watch continuously reset itself.
Mainly when Phil wore it.
He says it was the watch battery, but apparently in the Lakes, he had been possibly bombarded with electronic jamming signals from a low flying USAF plane.
There is a possibility that Phil is now part of the Us military’s special electronic jamming squad.
Anyway, the off shoot of this is that whenever you ask Phil the time he will answer
“12.05 and Sea Level”
When left off Phil’s watch tended to work.
Which always prompted him to put it back on.
At which point it would always reset.
I will NOT labour the issue any more, but this was to be a continuous theme rather like my 10 deg C thermometer from the 2012 Challenge.
So back to the Journey
We walked on towards our intended destination.
Navigation was pretty easy today, because in all honesty, it was nearly all road.
Although the weather was getting worse, we went across to the cycle track to try and get some pictures of Castle Stalker.
|Castle Stalker across the Mud Flats
It was a bit grey by now
There are a couple of nice bridges that take you over the wet ground, and it takes you off the road for a while. Had the weather been better I would have taken some photo’s of them
We carried on along the Cycle path that follows the old railway cuttings, and eventually picked up the road, and made our way to the Creagan Inn at the head of Loch Crearan.
It was to say the least pissing down by now.
On removal I discovered that my shirt was wet.
The rain had breached the waterproof (Berghaus Temperance II Jacket)
OK, maybe I should have given it a clean and Nikwax before the Challenge
It was too late now, I was going to have to live with it.
We decided a break and a cup of tea was in order.
Also they had a big warm fire, and that was too much to resist.
It was about 4.00 by now, it may have been a bit earlier.
|OK, so we may have had a Shandy as well.|
I was drying my shoes as well, and adding a bit of preventative micropore tape.
Foot care is damned important on the Challenge.
IF your feet start to bitch at you, do something about it.
Don’t wait until you get to the next stop, or just up the road.
Do it then.
Everyone has their own method, and for me, micropore works.
I put it on any bit that at the time in whinging.
I employed this methodology for the whole crossing, and although a couple of sore bits at times, I had no blisters.
I was wearing the Innov8 shoes (not boots), and use X socks trekking, which are quite thin, but a perfect fit (for ME).
You will need to work out your own footwear, because you DON’T have my feet see.
We could have stayed, but after about 30 minutes of the music that was piped out.
A sort of abominable HIGHLAND, BAGPIPE JAZZ SAXOPHONE FUSION
we could stand no more.
Bagpipes and Jazz do not mix.
Al already had fingers in his ears and was looking glazed.
Bugger the rain, it was definitely time to leave
Just before we did, Jeff and Joke arrived.
We stuck back on all our wet weather gear.
The rain was really persistent now, and it looked like a WET end to the day.
We carried on along the small road for what seemed like days.
There were the odd place to stick up a tent, but the really best bits all appeared to be in the gardens of BIG POSH houses. So much for impoverished Scotland.
Sadly many of them also appeared to be BIG holiday or weekend homes.
Tempted as we were, we plodded on until we arrived at the end of the road at Ellric.
There was not really anywhere to put up a tent.
To the left was a small track that said it was the Pine Martin Nature Walk.
Phil had planned to camp just off the track by the river.
We plodded on up the track, but the river was a no go, since it had been work done on it, and what looked like granite chippings laid.
“Maybe just round the next corner where the picnic table was.”
“NOPE”, that was too small and uneven.
We carried on up the track.
It was still pissing down
Eventually a decision was made.
Phil had found a small spot big enough for an Akto, just off the track.
Everything else there was boggy and under water.
“Sod this” said Al and I. “This track is flat, it will do”.
So we got tents up, and hammered pegs in with rocks.
As great as the Trailstar is, it does have a BIG footprint, so those little make do pitches, do NOT do.
|It will have to do OK.|
We crawled into tents.
I could not even be bothered to cook food, so it was lucky we had eaten on route.
It was still raining.
I spent the night wondering if a Quad bike, or Mountain bike would hurtle down the hill and crash into me.
And that was the end of Day 1.
Never mind, maybe tomorrow would be much better weather, we would see.
Of course for the most part it wasn’t